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Mauro: Iran-Taliban Alliance Not New

Posted on April 8 2010 10:50 am
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By Ryan Mauro

U.S. military officials are confirming that Shiite Iran is covertly helping the Sunni Taliban militants waging war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the media is treating it like it is news. The truth is that it is only news because the media, commentators, and some in the national security apparatus have adamantly stuck to the myth that cross-ideological cooperation between extremists is impossible. The thinking that extremists are so intolerant of different points of view that they’d never ally with one another rests on sound logic, but not sound evidence.

The alliance between Iran and the Taliban is a strong rebuttal to this still-too-common theory in analytical circles. Not only are the two on the opposite sides ideologically, they were fierce enemies for a long time. The Taliban viciously oppressed Shiites, and Iran nearly went to war with them in 1999 after they murdered eight Iranian diplomats. The Iranians backed Ahmad Shah Massoud of the Northern Alliance that sought to overthrow the Taliban. If these two sides can ally together despite their differences, then it shows that the analysis about the nature of Islamic extremists’ dealing with one another couldn’t be more wrong.

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